Mynette Louie makes movies happen. As a film producer and financier she pulls together the creative elements and funding that are required to bring any film to the big screen. But unlike most people in this testosterone-heavy industry, Louie, as president of Gamechanger Films, has dedicated herself exclusively to financing female-directed narrative features of any genre. Her position allows her to offer advice and wisdom to anyone who wants to make their voice heard.
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“In the financier role I focus on shepherding the business side of a movie, from getting the production financing set up to selling the film. But in the producer role I basically do everything except direct and act. In addition to being the business head of the film, I am the director’s creative partner, which means everything from giving notes on the script and the edit to overseeing cast and crew hires. As a producer you’re also an entrepreneur, making sure everything runs smoothly from beginning to end. It’s important to maintain oversight and quality control throughout the whole process.”
“I’m sent several scripts on a daily basis, but I only have the bandwidth to make a few films per year. The less attention I can devote to each film, whether as a financier or as a producer, the worse they turn out. It’s incredibly hard for an independent film to make money — it’s incredibly hard to make a film, period — so I am only making films I am passionate about. It’s not the business to get into if you’re looking to get rich.”
“In 2009, the market had just crashed and we were releasing an Asian-American film I produced, Children of Invention, directed by Tze Chun. Even after premiering at Sundance, the director and I had to really work to get that one out into the marketplace, not only because the market crash took a bunch of distributors down with it, but because it’s really hard to get a movie about people of color out into the world. There aren’t a lot of distributors that understand how to do that, so we set up our own DIY distribution model. We utilized the film-festival circuit almost as one long theatrical release. We played 50 film festivals across the world and would sell DVDs of the film after it screened. After getting no distribution interest after the first few screenings, but nonetheless collecting a ton of great press, reviews, and awards, we ended up with nine distribution offers by the middle of our run.”
“It’s very rewarding when you make a movie that both critics and audiences like — but the film has to make some money as well. As a producer, I have a responsibility to set up films that have the potential to make a return for our investors, with the ultimate hope that they will recycle these returns into our future movies. This is the kind of healthy symbiotic cycle I aim to maintain through every new film I produce.”
“Filmmaking is a difficult, grueling process. And it becomes even more grueling if you don’t believe in what you’re making. I’m always looking to work with talented directors who have unique creative voices. Independent films are often low-budget and don’t always fit into easy genre categories, so they aren’t the easiest to sell. For example, Gamechanger’s first film was an Icelandic buddy comedy called Land Ho! that was made in a very unique style and tone that made it different from other buddy comedies. But it worked. At the end of the day, with filmmaking being so tough, you have to focus on making movies that you will be proud of.”
Luke McCormick is a writer living in Brooklyn. He has written for SPIN, rollingstone.com, and other publications.